You probably don’t think much about your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system until it isn’t working properly. Your HVAC system ensures the health and comfort of your family throughout the year and accounts for over 50 percent of your utility bills, so it’s a fairly essential component to your home. The evolution of the system has an interesting history that is a testament to American ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Though the idea of “cooling the air” started hundreds of years ago when the Egyptians and Indians used manpower and ropes to animate fans, the heating/cooling system that we know today began with a huge leap forward in the mid 1700’s. Around this time several integral inventions, including the very first stove (developed by Benjamin Franklin) and steam engine (developed by James Watt) were created. In addition, the discovery of “latent heat” by Joseph Black helped further the development of water heating systems.

The momentum would continue through the following century when, in the 1830’s, Dr. John Gorrie designed a machine using compression to create buckets of ice. Air was then blown over the ice, which instantly cooled the surrounding area. He was unable to find any financial backing for the invention, which failed to move any further than prototype. But his basic idea was key in influencing the progression of the HVAC.

In the early part of the 20th Century, we begin to see real progress in the HVAC evolution:

1902: Willis Carrier invents a machine to help keep paper from being ruined by the humidity. Called the Apparatus for Treating Air, the invention uses a technique similar to the one created by Gorrie; air blows over cold coils to control the temperature and humidity. Other companies express interest in the machine, so Carrier starts the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America. He will go down in history as the inventor of modern air conditioning.

Willis Carrier Biography

1906: Textile mill engineer Stuart Cramer invents a ventilating machine that adds water vapor to the air, creating a humid environment that makes the yarn easier to work with.

1925: The air conditioning is introduced to the masses when the Rivoli Theater in New York City adds a Carrier-designed system to cool off patrons.

Air Conditioning Goes to the Movies

1931: Inventors H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman create the first individual air conditioning unit designed to function on window ledges. They are made available to the public, but their cost (between $10,000 and $50,000) prove to be too expensive for most consumers.

1939: The first air conditioned car is released.

1950’s: Air conditioning hits the mainstream and, during the post-WWII economic boom, millions of units are installed in houses across America.

1970’s: Central air revolutionizes air conditioning. A ventilation system is created to work with a new kind of unit that includes a condenser, coils and a fan. It brings conditioned air (heated and cooled) throughout the home. A new refrigerant called Freon is developed and helps usher in a new age of residential comfort.

1980: Toshiba invents inverter-type compressors, increasing HVAC efficiency by 30%.

1994: Freon is deemed harmful to the environment and more eco-friendly coolants are developed by brands including Carrier and Honeywell.

Present: Though there haven’t been any major innovations in the HVAC industry since the 70’s, the technology has become more energy-efficient and the options for conditioned air are myriad. Hybrid heating systems, geothermal systems, zoned systems and many more variations on the typical HVAC are commercially available.

Types of HVAC Systems

Interstate is proud to be a part of the HVAC story, having served our Oklahoma City neighbors for over a decade. We are your first, best source for complete HVAC services in OKC and the surrounding area. Contact us today at 405-794-8900 for all of your repair, maintenance and installation needs.

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